When Nintendo announced at its E3 conference that the company planned to trot out New Super Mario Bros. 2, I figured “Welp, it’s not Super Mario 3D Land 2, so count me out.”
Then I tried it at Nintendo’s booth and ate a big bowl of crows. It was fun! It was even… challenging! I died — in a Mario game!! — a couple of times through the three-level demo as I tried to collect every gold coin in sight.
And that’s the major conceit in NSMB2: gold, gold, gold. Gold coins were littered all over the levels. They trail behind the fishy Cheep-Cheeps, they spray out of green pipes, they appear out of nowhere. Mario can grab a special Gold Fire Flower that lets him throw something like the Midas Touch of fireballs, turning blocks, Koopas and Goombas into currency. It’s almost overkill!
I was worried the embarrassment of riches would break the game’s difficulty, that there wouldn’t be any difficulty, that Mario would be drowning in 1-Ups from the get-go like most recent Mario games. Not so in NSMB2. The coin counter in the corner of the screen goes into the thousands, so the usual 100 coins equals a 1-Up isn’t even a thing anymore, aaand it looks like the traditional lives system has been axed completely. Quite a change from the norm.
I don’t know why the big emphasis is on coin collecting. The incentive for grabbing every coin in sight wasn’t obvious in the demo, but according to Nintendo’s press release the 3DS StreetPass function will let players swap highest coin records through a three-level Coin Rush Mode. I hope that’s not the only reason for the coin craziness.
Regardless of the Mystery of the Coins, I’m impressed how Nintendo continually refine and alter the Mario formula. Just when I think I’m tired of Mario, he surprises me. The guy’s been around forever and they still find new ways to keep him interesting. Or maybe I’m just a sucker for jumpin’ plumbers that can transform into raccoons.
And yes, Raccoon Mario from Super Mario Bros. 3 is back, complete with P-meter that charges up as he runs, though I didn’t get to see that for myself in the on-floor demo. Local co-op multiplayer (with Luigi!) will also be open for those with another 3DS and game cart at their disposal.
Oh, oh, oh!! And the Reznor dinosaur guys from Super Mario World and the Koopa Kids are back, too. Mm-mm-mmm.
New Super Mario Bros. 2 will pelt gold coins at you on August 19th as a digital download on the eShop and a usual retail release.